Behind the Scenes

Behind the Scenes

Production Plus Works with Producers for Turnkey Solutions

Production Plus started out like many companies do, under a different name. Back in 1973, Brulen Enterprises, the brainchild of co-owners Len Davis and Bruce Sirus, focused on theater work, mostly building sets for shows and then moving on to magic shows and reveals. As its reputation grew throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, they gained another partner, Greg Kieta, in 1986 and renamed themselves Production Plus with the intent to expand its services.

Production Plus worked on Harley Davidson’s 150th Anniversary show in Milwaukee,WI, building displays with audio, video, and lighting. sales and project manager for Production Plus, explains. “The guys slowly worked themselves into multi-image shows, which were big in the 1980s. Greg was a genius at that stuff, and he pushed them into doing more audiovisual work and they grew rapidly from there. I think that we’re in our third building around Burr Ridge, IL now. This facility is a 73,000-square-foot warehouse with about 55 full-time employees.”

The changing technologies have been the biggest factor in changing Production Plus’ motives in the past few years, as Purvee notes. “In the 1980s it was slides and such, but now we’re working with IMAG, LCD projectors, etc. We’ve grown with the industry. We moved away from magic shows and theater and into corporate theater and meetings. It’s been an amazing transition in just the ten years I’ve been here. It’s truly astonishing what technology can do these days. You can get so much more bang for the buck out of these smaller units, and seeing everything going from analog to digital has really been fantastic as well.”

Production Plus focuses most of its services on working with producers for larger shows. “A good 90 percent of our business is working as a resource for producers,” says Purvee. “We’ll get hired and do project management and custom scenic, which are both our strong points. We have quite a bit of AV gear in the building, and we have a number of partners around the country as far as lighting and audio and video that we work with. We are a turnkey resource for producers. We help them with their pitch, their design process, and the renderings or animations they present to the clients. Once they win the event, we come in and project manage it; we make sure to execute on the budget and execute their creative. We do not produce shows though — that’s a line we’ve decided never to cross. We find our strengths really lie in being a resource for producers and creative.”

The Harley Davidson’s 150th Anniversary show was a big success for Production Plus. They loaded in for three weeks next to Lake Michigan and had over 150,000 attendees.

While Production Plus stays on top of technology, it will often hold back on purchasing certain gear because of a lack customer requests. “A lot of our gear is based on the bread-and-butter shows that we’ll have go out 30-40 times a year,” says Purvee. “That’s what we’ll invest the most in. There are certain technologies that we’ve taken awhile to get into, like widescreen technology. We actually just bought a Barco Encore system because we didn’t always have a need for it. I also think a lot of our clients are more educated in what to do with that type of technology as well, so it’s more asked for now.”

Production Plus’ future looks bright as it continues to take more and more jobs out of state. “We actually do more work outside of Illinois than we do inside,” says Purvee. “To be able to find solutions and keep trucking costs down has been key to our success as well. So I think those freelancers and vendors around the country have been great for us. And we consider a lot of them family since we’ve been with some of them for 20-30 years. With the economy the way it is, the future is hard to read. But we’ve gotten a lot of opportunities for next year already, so I think it’s probably not going to be as bad as I might have thought earlier this year. I think there’s a lot of good things going on, and we’re fairly optimistic for the future.”